Nienke's five-star hotel experience - learned CX lessons

Seven lessons from this not-so-good customer experience...

This is an interesting topic: how to personalize occasions such as birthdays, wedding days and anniversaries? It all starts with understanding your customer. What are their expectations?

I had a good conversation with my friend Raymond Brunyanszki, the business owner of Camden Harbor Inn in the US. A Relais & Chateaux hotel and restaurant, where luxury and personal attention are key to keeping guests coming back. He told me that they ask their customers for special days. They found a way to systematize expectations and then translate these into solutions in operations.

This is what I would suggest the CX leader of the Waldorf Astoria:

  1. Determine in the CX strategy how important special moments and tailoring to guest needs actually are. In my opinion, in luxury, it is extremely important. Because good food or a great spa, can only be topped by personal attention. So clarity in strategy is key.
  2. Ask guests when booking if there are any special days or wishes. So that the staff knows this in advance. This way, they can anticipate these moments and organise some memorable experiences at these moments.
  3. Make sure the CRM system recognises these special days. I am a Hilton Honors member and they know my date of birth. So on the day itself, the system could have given a certain mention, that at least during check out, the employee would have seen it was my birthday and could have congratulated me.
  4. Make sure you have some branded gifts and a manuscript ready, detailing what to do when. Enable gifting! This way, staff members can easily grab a gift and a notecard from the shelf and present it to the customer. Branded, because if the customer shares a photo on social media, it is also great marketing for you as an organisation.
  5. Train your staff in picking up on signs, when special moments occur. Make them alert.
  6. In the morning, add special moments in the start up huddles at the operation teams. Do we have guests with special moments, who need a little extra attention today? If there is attention in the team and maybe even some gamification is added, it becomes a sport to exceed the guests' expectations.
  7. What if you missed the mark? It happens. Don't just ask at check-out, "Did you have a pleasant stay?" Almost everyone says yes, and you won't get valuable information that way. Instead, ask "What could we have done better, that would have made your stay even more enjoyable?" That is genuine curiosity and helps you truly learn where to improve as an organization.

So, enough to be learned here. And... maybe you see even more CX pro suggestions. Please share!